Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Show Stopper

We talk sometimes about "show stopper" bugs. These are the things that you look at and say, "Oh my. We couldn't POSSIBLY ship with that."

Oddly, a "show stopper" was originally something (a song, dance, monologue) that caused the entire show to stop due to prolonged applause (and cheers, etc).

Somehow I can't imagine applause for a show stopper bug. At least, not usually. Relief you found it, maybe, but not applause.

We call 'em "must fix" bugs or "blockers" instead.


  1. Ha -- ironic, the origin of that term. :)

    The problem with "must fix" is that many clients say "must" when they really mean "should".

    And "blockers" should be expanded to "launch blockers" to specify exactly what they're standing in the way of.

  2. I prefer a more structured judgment.
    There is a FAIL, and FAIL has the following attributes: Severity and Inconsistency. Those are to be documented in the defect report.

    Severity means something didn’t work and the more functionalities have been cut off the higher Severity is. While inconsistency means something didn’t work _properly_ and the more wrong it is the higher Inconsistency is.

    Based on the Business Impact, decision-making manager sets the Priority specifying how soon the defect should be fixed.
    1. Displaying wrong account balance.
    Severity: Low. Inconsistency: High. Priority: High
    2. Doesn’t display “About” window.
    Severity: ShowStopper. Inconsistency: Low. Priority: Low
    3. Doesn’t display transaction history report.
    Severity: ShowStopper. Inconsistency: Low. Priority: High

  3. Hello Catherine,
    Amazing how such a simple word can result in different thoughts.
    I think the term is quite accurate. When using it, it gets all the management attention you need.
    "Show Stopper" seems to you inaccurate due to the applause and cheering. Only this is a result of some performance. if you perform correct, you cheer and this results in stopping the show.
    When looking at the words: stopping the show, if you find an issue (behavior) which stops the show then you also take some action, you don't continue. In testing it might be finding a bug which prevents you to continue.
    if you are able to solve the bug within time, the cheering will also come and you will get the same behavior as you described.
    The funny thing is that the last test case to perform can also be the show stopper, in that case might prevent you to go to production, if everything went well, you will also get the applause.